Happy Monday. We made it to another week. Yesterday was a 1-3 CBB day, which isn’t great. But it was also a 3-1 NBA day with a (slight) underdog winning outright in the Lakers. We’ll call it even and move on. Let’s start the week off strong here.
- Jose Alvarado dropped 38 to help the Pelicans roll past the Nuggets and claim sole possession of the West’s 2 seed. New Orleans is outscoring opponents by 5.5 more points per 100 possessions than the Nuggets, who rank 7th in net rating in the West despite the 14-9 record. The Pelicans are just one spot beneath Denver in offensive rating, and they’re twenty-three spots above them in defensive rating. There has been and is a lot of buzz about Jokic and the Nuggets being strong championship contenders, but that would be better directed towards New Orleans.
- AD dropped 55 and 17 to help the Lakers roll in Washington. Again, he’s still not really passing or making many threes, but he’s been as optimized as he can be despite those two things recently. If he’s going to do this all year, the Lakers have more than a fighting chance. Whether that’s realistic for the next six months is another question. But Davis deserves props for stepping up and doing what he needs to do for an extended stretch regardless of how long it continues.
- The Kings held off a 41-point effort from Zach LaVine to grab their tenth win in thirteen games. They’re all the way up to 6th in net rating (that’s in the league, not the West). The defense is up to 16th, and it ranks 8th over the last thirteen games. Sacramento, finally, is good.
- The Knicks did well to grind one out over the Cavs, holding their dynamic offense to just 81 points. I think the Bulls are a little better than they appear, but New York can’t be feeling too bad if a play-in spot comes down to them, the Wizards, and Chicago. That’s very doable.
- The Celtics, Grizzlies, and Suns all picked up solid wins.
- The Blazers looked good in Dame’s return as they moved to 13-11 with a win over the Pacers. They’ve stumbled quite a bit with Lillard out and will need to stabilize.
- Kentucky held off Michigan in London for a solid win. Michigan has missed two good chances in a row after losing a tight one to Virginia on Tuesday. You have to wonder with their current resume and level of play if that will end up biting them on Selection Sunday. Thursday’s trip to Minnesota is big.
- Arizona bounced back from the loss in Utah by knocking off Cal at home. Cal is bad, but a conference win is a conference win.
- Purdue rolled Minnesota to move to 8-0. A trip to Nebraska awaits next weekend.
- Speaking of Nebraska, they grabbed a hugely impressive win over Creighton. I didn’t see it coming at all. Nebraska has soundly beaten bad Power 5 teams in Florida State and Boston College, but they had lost by 12, 13, and 20 to Memphis, Oklahoma, and St John’s. But this win over a good Creighton team will give them some massive momentum heading into a potentially season-making week. Indiana and Purdue are on the schedule over the next six days.
- UNC has lost four in a row and hasn’t looked anything like a top contender, but don’t let that bury an impressive 8-1 start for Virginia Tech.
- Northwestern is 6-2 after winning in East Lansing. We’re looking at some unusual suspects with a chance to make some waves in the Big Ten this year. Michigan State, meanwhile, started the year with some supposed statement performances against fellow blue bloods, but they’ve gone 2-3 with a one-point win over Portland in their last five games.
- Iowa State moved to 7-1 and handed St John’s their first loss in a strong showing.
- UCLA roared back in the second half to drop Oregon to 4-5.
- Miami is off to an 8-1 start that has them in good position to chase after a second straight tourney appearance. Louisville is 0-8, which is insane. They’re 361st out of 363 in the first NET rankings. I’m a little suspicious of those rankings after a brief scroll, but the fact that Louisville is in the bottom three in the country in any attempt to rank teams is absurd. They’re also 206th on KenPom, which puts them 56 spots beneath the second-lowest ACC team (FSU). The good news? They have some chances to win in the next four games – @FSU, Western Kentucky, Florida A&M, Lipscomb. If we’re looking at an 0-12 Louisville team in 15 days, then that’d be pretty bad.
- Some of the usual mid-major threats – from Belmont to Murray State to Vermont – have struggled early. We’ll see if that changes as the year continues.
- UAB is 7-1 with the sole loss to Toledo. They’re a team to watch once again.
- Utah State deserves props. They’re 7-0 after a really impressive 82-64 win over San Francisco.
NBA record: 44-43-1 ATS, 11-12 ML, 2-4 O/U, 0-3 parlay, 0-1 props, -10.00 units
- Bucks -9.5
The Bucks realistically beat up on the Magic, who have lost ten of eleven. The last seven losses have all come by 7+ points. Milwaukee will get some players back tonight too after a number of starters sat out their win over the Hornets.
- Celtics ML (+100)
There are a few teams that are good enough that you just take them when they have plus odds to win regardless of situation. The Bucks. The Suns. The Celtics. Boston played yesterday, but they should beat a good Toronto team here. I like them at plus odds.
- Grizzlies -1.5
The Grizzlies did play last night, but they didn’t have anyone go too hard minutes-wise in a win over the Pistons. Miami has been playing better lately, but I still like the Grizz with such a low line.
- Suns ML (+125)
There are a few teams that are good enough that you just take them when they have plus odds to win regardless of situation. The Bucks. The Suns. The Celtics. Phoenix played yesterday, but they should beat a good Dallas team here. I like them at plus odds.
- Warriors Pacers O237
Both teams play really fast and don’t guard particularly well. The Pacers have really struggled defensively during their recent slide. Give me points.
CBB record: 23-25 ATS, 1-6 ML, 3-2 O/U, 1-0 parlay, -5.5 units
- Kent State +14.5
Kent State is good. They lost to Houston by 5 and Charleston by 2 in their only losses of the year. Gonzaga has been less than impressive overall. I like Kent State to cover here.
- Troy +16
San Diego State has just one win of more than 16 points. Troy is alright. I like them to keep this a little close than 16.